Feminism is a concept that has its roots deeply embedded in human history. As far back as pre-Ancient Greek Gods, their society was ruled by female worship. However, humans being humans, all things are cyclical.
In large part this is due to a struggle for equilibrium. We do not have a capacity within us to stay satisfied. If we did, we would have very little to work toward and ultimately have no reason to continue living. This is what defines the human condition.
When men got to a point where they were not satisfied with peace and physical attributes were less respected than love of Earth, they took over. As with any ruling class, the first order of business in cementing their authority is to vilify all that preceded them. So, the lesser female gods were turned into whores, witches, and waives. Those that had a more powerful presence proved harder to erase from the minds of the populace, so they were subjugated or relegated to second class.
Take Hera, for instance. She became second in command to Zeus. Hera was turned into a jealous shrew who went around punishing the innocent girls who Zeus noticed and used to satiate the desire of his loins. The list is extensive, so for the purpose of this discussion, we'll leave it at that.
Flash forward to the time of Christ. If you really read his teachings you might realize that he was the first, modern-day, feminist. He advocated women's rights and some scholars have suggested that Mary Magdalene was actually his wife, and first disciple.
There was a lot of conflict back then, just as there is today, and one thing that all sides could agree on is that this was something that had to be whitewashed. Though Mary was agreeably and important figure that could not be entirely erased from history, her role was significantly diminished.
Flash forward to the 1800s to the writings of Mary Wollstonecraft. By now women had been firmly shamed and pigeon holed into roles of illiterate childbearing devices. Most were considered property of men and not fully human. This is still the case today, even in many pockets of Western Culture. Of all of the things that Wollstonecraft wrote, the most significant was that women are perhaps their own worst perpetrators.
It is only because women, as a whole, have bought into the traditional male defined roles that the suppression of the class was possible. Fellow women define norms and rules for appropriate behavior. Pious, well-intentioned ladies came together to perpetuate stereotypes that men were exempt from. Entire generations were burned at the stake for being no more than wishing for the right to free thought and education.
What the women's liberation movement did is attempt to even the playing field. As with any rebellion, certain actions went perhaps too far and were on the extreme side. What the exact benefit of burning bras was, is up for debate. Perhaps it can be attributed to getting carried away in the moment.
This brings us back to the notion of human nature and equilibrium. Though the fight is far from over, and will likely never achieve its true goal of an even playing field, it did open the doors (at least within Western Culture) for women to be regarded as humans under the law. A man can no longer simply walk around his wife three times to divorce her or take on multiple wives to increase his chances of having many sons.
In some sectors, the glass ceiling has been shattered and women are no longer barred from entering certain professions or walking down the street without an escort. But with a lack of restraint there formed a need for the invention of new norms and new rules, on which too few people can agree.
Now, several decades after the most current women`s lib movement, men are more supportive of their wives need to be more than a female breeder. But if the entire race is better off for it is still in question. At the end of the day babies still need to be born and nurtured and if both partners are busy being providers and worshipers of self-realization what will become of the next generation, and progressively the one after that?
This is the main question that will ultimately force the scale back and retraction of the current structure. Already more and more young families are choosing to have the mother stay home even as she herself never imagined that would be a choice taken willingly and eagerly.
The women's liberation movement of the 20th century was not new, or even all that unique. It was simply a reaction to a lack of balance. For as long as the human race will continue to exist there will be a struggle of the sexes, and there should be. Struggle is the impetus of our continued commitment to living.